Ever wonder what species you’re looking at as you admire wildflowers (or a stranger’s garden)? Pl@ntNet—an app developed by several French research institutions and a network for botanists called Tela Botanica—uses technology similar to facial recognition software to identify species of plants from user-uploaded photographs. It’s Shazam for plants, as Modern Farmer dubs it.
Because the app was designed for French users, it was originally geared toward the native flora of Western Europe. It can currently identify more than 6000 European plants, but plant-savvy users can also contribute to the app and help identify different species that aren’t already in the database. Since its release, users have established databases for almost 900 South American plants as well as more than 1000 plants native to the areas around the Indian Ocean.
Here’s how it works: You upload a picture of that mysterious wildflower. Then, you indicate that it’s a flower, rather than a leaf or stem. Much like Google’s reverse image search, it combs through similar images in its archives to help you identify the species. Visual image technology isn’t very sophisticated right now, and it may not give you the exact plant you’re looking for—especially with North American plants. But over time, as more people add identified images, the network promises to become more and more capable.
[h/t Modern Farmer]